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Art Institute Fashion Show: from Refined to Rock ‘N Roll

Closing out the season of student fashion shows on Saturday night was the Art Institute of California’s United Streets of Fashion event held at the San Francisco Design Center Galleria. During the hour-and-a-half show, nearly 100 looks from student designers appeared on a raised runway flanked by rows of VIP seats and a judging panel featuring Project Runway Season 7 contestant Amy Sarabi, Arts of Fashion Foundation President Nathalie Doucet and Cali Vintage’s Erin Hagstrom.

Grouped into 10 scenes with names such as Lust for Life, Terminally Chill and Deadbeat Summer, the designs shown ranged from casual daytime sportswear to daring lingerie, retro-minded swimwear to gala-worthy evening gowns. While the looks were diverse, a few trends coursed through the evening’s offerings. Hems were notably high, almost impractically so in some cases, while corseted construction, exposed zippers and dropped-crotch pants made numerous appearances on the runway.

One of the evening’s standouts was Autie Carlisle’s creative and wearable convertible dress, a black cotton voile gown that, thanks to an adept model, converted on the runway to a floor-length brocade gown in orange, red and white hues. Other notable moments included Rachel Richardson’s military-tinged sportswear, a sweetly simple tweed strapless dress by Rachel Poulos, Leslie Fong’s faux fur cocoon wrap and Jessica Cabrera’s elegant black silk strapless gown with side drapes.

Women’s apparel dominated the show, but there were several segments for men, including Sarah Baker’s Victorian-inspired menswear and best construction award and scholarship winner Cameron Stewart’s dark, post-apocalyptic men’s ensembles. After the main show, a handful of students competed in a special rock ‘n roll show inspired by the Museum of Performance and Design’s collection of 1960’s stage looks. Dallas Coulter’s ruby velvet jacket and flare jeans look won first place and will be displayed at the museum. Additional awards went to Leanna Liu for best creativity and design and to Justyna Fiuk for best overall impact.